Never Apologising – Even when you’re wrong

Apologising is a tool for reconciliation.  It is used by people who want to maintain, fix and continue with important relationships in their lives.  Never apologising has some important facets.  First is the inability of the person in the wrong to look at their own behaviour and find fault, no matter how small the fault may be and decide that they don’t like that behaviour and so want to change it. Second is being unable to realise that someone important to you in whatever way, was hurt by your actions/words and that now the important relationship has been damaged.

So what do I mean by someone being in the wrong?  Isn’t that very subjective?

Well yes, it is actually.  Most people feel like they are in the right in nearly everything they do simply because they are good people who don’t do bad things.  Unfortunately though, humans have within them biases of perception.  In what is known as the actor/observer effect, it has been found that people attribute the bad behaviours and mistakes of other people to flaws within the person’s personality, but their own bad behaviour or mistakes to situational causes.  So people tend to make excuses for themselves based on the situations they encounter, while being very critical of others and believing they suffer from internal flaws of character.  However, we do have the capacity to move past such biases, once we understand they exist.  Most people will recognise when their behaviour is out of line and when they should apologise.  It may still be very hard to admit you were wrong, but for the most part you will know when you are.

The emotionally healthy person will try to repair the relationship that has become damaged due to their behaviour.  They will apologise for the part they played.  If they cannot immediately see for themselves what they did wrong, once it is explained to them, they can acknowledge the problem and apologise.

The emotionally unhealthy person will refuse to look at their actions, instantly believing that they are correct in everything they have done/said.  They will immediately look for defects in the other person and will point them out in order to prove themselves right and the other person wrong.

Only the ego finds apologising to be a weakness.

If you have done something wrong on a person you care about and they are upset then you should apologise.  Blaming the situation and thinking this will get you out of apologising is not good enough, as the situation did not make you do or say anything at all.  Refusing to apologise means that you are putting yourself before the other person.  You are your own primary concern and their feelings don’t matter.  Diminishing somebody else will never win their goodwill, but if you are too wrapped up in yourself, and in being right, to care about how the other person feels then you don’t deserve them in your life and they will be right to leave.

Attempting to skip this step after an argument/incident and moving on while the other person still feels hurt will usually result in a lot of anger from the aggrieved party as they do not feel respected or important.  You are telling them that you can behave any way you want to, hurt them and then when you feel like it, they just have to move on and be sweet and kind to you again.

What if you didn’t do anything ‘wrong’ but you hurt someone else’s feelings anyway?

People want to be treated with respect and they want to know that they matter to you. If you bumped into a stranger in the street you would say “I’m sorry” or “excuse me”, so why can’t you say something similar to someone you care about?  Simply expressing regret that something you said/did has hurt another is often necessary when you have not done anything terribly wrong, but have hurt another person anyway.  It is usually accompanied by an explanation as to why the actions were carried out/words said, but it acknowledges the impact on the other person and assures them that it was not intentional and that they are actually cared about.  This is just communication, it is about undoing a misunderstanding.  It is not about arguing your point as to why you were right and trying to force them to agree with you…it is not even about you.  It is about your recognition that your words or deeds have hurt somebody else and trying to make them feel better and making sure that the relationship you have with them is intact and undamaged.

What if you are accused of being the one in the wrong but you feel you aren’t?

Well, I’d say this happens a lot, as mentioned above people have biases in perception in the form of the actor/observer effect.  I suppose you have to realise that you can only really analyse your own behaviour and make judgements on that.  Maybe you are both responsible for what happened and should both apologise or maybe you are dealing with an emotionally unhealthy, or simply an immature person.  This article is not about assigning blame to individual arguments, it’s really to highlight to angry people who know that they are in the wrong, that if they have hurt someone else through their bad behaviour or words, and they wish to maintain their relationship with the other person, then they need to learn to apologise.

Saying I’m sorry is like a magic word.  It can help to undo so much damage when it is said with meaning, or create so much more damage if left unsaid.  Look after the people who matter, look after the people you want to stay in your life. Recognise that we are not perfect and nobody is right all the time.  We all do things from time to time that hurt other people…usually it is inadvertently, i.e. we didn’t mean to.  If you didn’t mean to hurt somebody, but did, then why would you refuse to apologise?

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  1. If you are angry with someone who accused you of something that you didnt do, how can you apologise or regret?

    • Hi Lynda, if you have been accused in the wrong then I don’t think you are in the ‘won’t apologise’ category. This article, like the rest of the site, is really for people who have anger issue problems but refuse to acknowledge the effect their behaviours have on others.

  2. hello all ope you are fine thank you so much for this efort u did by posting this article i dont knwo but i always loose the controle i fought before some minutes with my roommate about a silly thing that dont diserve what happened ,dont knwo but he alwys make me angry he criticize me my behavior althout i swear am straight and never bother others this time i comletely lost controle and i was to beat him but in the last moment i get out and i got for a short walk he even criticize me in front of others friends and thats really made me annoyed and sad and every moment he irritate me i cant hold my anger i dont knwo how to deal with this issues althout my relation with others very normal and i always smile but if i became angry i became another one i am even thinking to get a room just for me and to live alone thak u in advance for ur cooperatin and good luck for all

    • It’s good that you left before physically harming your room mate, as it is never OK to get violent with someone because you’re angry.

      Can you talk to your room mate and tell him you don’t like how he talks to you, and that is why you get angry with him? If he knows how his behaviour is affecting you but still continues to do it then it shows what kind of person he is. If he doesn’t mean to hurt you with his words then he will stop.

      Trying to sort things out with him is the best way to deal with this and any situation that is similar. If you can’t sort it out, then try and get a new room mate.

      All the best

  3. why shouldnt we apologis

  4. Its not that we feel we are better than the person we hurt, its that they don’t understand why we became angry in the first place. I blew up my boyfriend for saying i lied. I really didn’t want to hear what he had to say I just went off and he said I hurt him. Well he didn’t make me feel much better. Should i apologize then?

    • If you were wrong, then yes, you should! However, I am not saying you are the one in the wrong, on this occasion.

  5. Hi, would like to ask what should i do in this situation?
    I am working part-time during the weekends and recently i did not go to work. I never inform my boss, and he tried to called me a few times(Sat & Sun mornings). I know i am wrong by doing this and its my fault. My mom was just so angry with me, because she knows that i skipped work and not informing anyone. She was yelling that they will cut my pay. I told her i deserved that since i did not attend, and next thing she started scolding me. To be honest, i got a bit angry. I know i was in the wrong and i chose to accept it if my pay was cut, she was yelling stuff like “then you work for free?” and some random stuff.
    What should i do in this kind of situation?

    • If you are willing to accept the consequences and they do not negatively impact anyone else then I don’t see the problem. However, I don’t know your age and perhaps you should be listening to your mother a bit more?

  6. i am in a bad situation now. i tried thinking positive but somehow some very minor things will just blow off my bf’s anger.

    we had arguments ever since we moved in a month ago. all i want is just to spend more time with him and when he go out whole day and night and at times not coming home without informing me, i got really angry. he will not reply my messages or my phone calls also. i was very angry and ended up we had a big argument. to him my action is making him stress and he stated that he dont have to even tell me the reasons as he is the man of the house.

    coming to know his reasons for going out and staying out later, i apologized. he said he still cant forgive me and it’s to the point that he dont even want to touch me or hold me. a few days ago, his cousin asked him to help her. he asked me for my help. hence i tried helping. i was reccently very disturbed by my own work issue as well and i was trying to make do with it. today, i was suppose to go get some work settle and later on go out to help his cousin for the favor she asked. but in the morning i was not feeling too good and i told my bf that i may skip the work. he text me an hours later asking me when am i going to help her and i inform that i am on the way to help her find the information. half way through, i had something came up from work, and its my fault for not informing him that i m going to do the work first only then, i will go to help his cousin . an hour later when he called only i inform him. he got pissed off and started scolding me.

    he said i messed up the whole thing and he is ashamed of this. he is also saying that i am playing him out and it makes him really angry. he also said that he will not ask me to do anything next time and wont trust me on that. and lastly he said that he knows now where he belongs in my life. i apologized and he said that it wont help.

    i am really depressed. what should i do?

    • It doesn’t sound like your boyfriend is treating you with much respect Lynn! You are now depressed and asking what you should do. However, no one can tell you what to do, but ask yourself if you are happy with how he treats you and if you can live with that from now on. You have to make the decisions, even if they are the hard ones, that will make you happy. Best of luck!

  7. Alessia says:

    What a great article! I was in a bad situation recently and I apologized anyway for not doing anything “wrong” although my actions hurt my friend. She angrily insulted me, though– and didn’t apologize for that. Glad to see that I had done the right thing bu saying sorry.

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